A viral image supposedly showing KKK members marching in Alamance County after Donald Trump’s presidential victory is not based in reality.
A Twitter user posted a grainy photo early Wednesday of several people standing on a highway overpass, holding flags or signs, with the caption “KKK on the bridge in Mebane, NC this morning.”
That photo alone was retweeted tens of thousands of times, and it was also picked up by countless other social media users who reposted it via their own accounts.
However, the group in question was not actually wearing Ku Klux Klan regalia and, as far as anyone can tell, was not made up of KKK members.
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A group of about a dozen Trump supporters have been coming to the bridge in question several times a month since February, according to the Burlington Times-News.
Natalie Allison Janicello, a reporter for the paper, was there on Election Night with the protestors. She said when she saw the photo, she recognized some flags and one man’s yellow shirt, so she’s sure it was where she had been. And she didn’t see or hear anything related to the Klan.
“There was no one claiming or professing to be part of the KKK,” she said. “These were just local conservatives who were out there for Trump. … Never once did they mention any affiliation with the KKK.”
Photos the paper took there show people in regular clothing and holding American flags, Donald Trump flags, Christian flags and “Don’t Tread On Me” flags.
The marchers included people from a group called Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County (ACTBAC). The group made headlines in August when it began raising money to buy and install Confederate flags along I-40. But the photos from the post-Trump celebration show no Confederate flags, and Janicello said she also didn’t see any Confederate flags or emblems.
Trump was endorsed by the KKK’s official newspaper, and Alamance County is historically a hotbed of KKK activity in North Carolina. But local officials said the rumors that spread Wednesday didn’t appear to have any truth to them.
A clerk from the Mebane Police Department confirmed the police had not received any calls regarding a KKK presence in town. BuzzFeed News reported that the Alamance County Sheriffs Office also had not received any such reports.
Nevertheless, the tweet was picked up by people ranging from former football player Chad Johnson to terrorism expert Charles Lister and actress/activist Yvette Nicole Brown.
Despite all the viral attention the image had received Wednesday, one group remained unaware of the controversy – the Alamance County Republican Party.
“I haven’t even heard of what you’re talking about,” party chairman Ben York said at noon Wednesday.
York said the local GOP hadn’t organized any marches of its own after the election, and was not officially involved in whatever it was that people had seen.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran